Texas National Research University Fund, Proposition 4 (2009)
The Texas National Research University Fund Amendment, also known as Proposition 4, was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.
To achieve the prominence of a Tier One research institute, a school must meet five out of seven quality standards. Included in these standards are awarding 200 doctoral degrees a year and having a $400 million endowment. A school must reach these standards before receiving any money for research. Furthermore, this amendment eliminated the Texas higher education fund, and any payments for that fund due by July 1, 2010 would go to the research university fund. Seven schools are listed by the amendment that received the benefits of the research university fund. The seven schools are:
- University of Texas at Arlington
- University of Texas at Dallas
- University of North Texas
- Texas Tech University
- University of Houston
- University of Texas at El Paso
- University of Texas at San Antonio
The temporary amendment was set to be in effect until January 1, 2011. The bill was authored by Representatives Frank Corte, Jr., Harvey Hilderbran, Charles Anderson, Ken Paxton and Bryan Hughes. Sen. Robert Duncan is the sponsor of the proposed amendment.
According to former Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, supporter of the proposition, after the election: "Tonight's passage of Proposition 4 sends this important message: Texans understand that more nationally recognized research universities will help retain Texas-grown talent, recruit top researchers who will generate billions of dollars in economic growth and create more high paying, permanent jobs."
|Texas Proposition 4 (2009)|
Election results via: Legislative Reference Library of Texas
Emerging universities must achieve five out of these seven qualifications to receive funding proposed by Proposition 4:
- Qualified research expenditures of $45 million in both state fiscal years in the preceding state biennium.
- $400 million in endowments.
- Award 200 doctorates each year.
- A high-achieving freshman class (high SAT scores, class rank).
- A Phi Beta Kappa chapter or membership in the Association of Research Libraries.
- High-quality faculty (i.e., members of national academies).
- Excellent graduate education.
Text of measure
|“||The constitutional amendment establishing the national research university fund to enable emerging research universities in this state to achieve national prominence as major research universities and transferring the balance of the higher education fund to the national research university fund.||”|
The full text of the measure can be read here.
- See also: Amending the Texas Constitution
Former Texas Lt. Governor Bill Hobby went on record to support the measure, arguing the jobs creation that the measure would bring. Hobby, who resides in Houston, stated that the fund proposed by the amendment would help boost the University of Houston and others listed to national recognition and prominence. According to Hobby: "The downside is we watch many of our best students continue to go out of state. We're just watching money flow out the door."
The group Texans For Tier One supported the measure, stating the constitutional amendment would do the following:
- Creates National Research University Fund
- Tier One funding for 7 emerging research universities in Texas
- Creates advanced higher education alternatives for Texas college students
- Enhances economy of the entire state of Texas
- Existing dormant funds transferred – no new money allotted
According to San Antonio-Express columnist Jan Jarboe Russell, backers of the measure also stated:
- The amendment wouldn’t be costly to taxpayers because the money used to make universities strong research institutions would be from an old account called the Texas Higher Education Fund.
- The higher education fund has been dormant and would be put to use if the amendment is passed in November.
- The passage of the amendment would give cities like San Antonio a boost in economic status. The University of Texas at San Antonio would be considered one of the seven schools that would be potential research universities.
- Russell stated UTSA still has requirements to meet, and lists them throughout her writings. She states that if the university meets those mandates, "...we won't just have a Tier One public university. We'll have a Tier One city."
$274,202 was reported to have been contributed to campaigns in support of Proposition 4.
|October 1||Texans for Tier One||$100,000|
|October 26||Texans for Tier One||$150,102.85|
In an overview of Proposition 4 by the Dallas Morning News, the publication listed the arguments against the proposed amendment. Although the newspaper listed the arguments against the measure, the newspaper went on record to endorse it. The arguments against the measure follow:
- The state should concentrate on awarding funds to the few institutions that are the closest to having Tier One status, not spreading the funds to other schools who are still struggling to attain that elite status.
- The amendment does not include a “sunset” provision, meaning there is no period where the effects of this amendment would be reviewed to see if it is creating a positive or negative result on the state’s economy.
The Young Conservatives of Texas were the first group to state their opposition to Proposition 4, stating:
- Emphasized efforts towards transforming the seven listed schools into research universities would stunt the education of the students at those schools.
- Citing a study done by the Texas Public Foundation in 2008, the group pointed out that, to date, state universities have spent $9 billion on research, but only generate $8.3 million in annual income.
- According to vice chairman of legislative affairs, Tony McDonald: “So many of our classes are taught by teaching assistants or very young, inexperienced professors. And we are seeing that these ‘great’ professors are teaching practically no classes. The state would be better off using the money to teach students.”
No committees or contributions to campaigns in opposition to Proposition 4 were reported.
Media editorial posititions
- Main article: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2009
- The Austin Chronicle said, "A valiant attempt to provide potential research funding to institutions other than the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, in the hopes of eventually expanding the number of major research universities statewide. Good luck, since we don't fund the ones we have."
- The El Paso Times said,"This would establish a national research university fund that would help emerging research universities achieve greater recognition on the national scene. In UTEP's case, it could help the university in its quest for Tier 1 status. Best of all, the National Research University Fund would be funded by transferring the balance of the Higher Education Fund to the NRUF -- no burden to taxpayers."
- The Star-Telegram said, "Texans have to be getting tired of lists that show their state ranking way behind others, especially when it comes to education. In the Nov. 3 constitutional amendment election, they have a chance to start making things right, at least in one crucial way. Proposition 4, if approved by voters, will provide a way to help more Texas universities grow to become nationally recognized for their research, what’s often called "Tier 1" among U.S. institutions of higher learning," said the editorial board.
|“||States such as California and New York have multiple Tier One research schools, and Texas only has three (University of Texas, Texas A&M and Rice University).
Texas schools have emerged as potential top tier institutions and the amendment would further assist these universities to reaching that status.
According to the editorial: "We need to train the super-skilled workers that businesses crave. But instead, every year Texas loses thousands more freshmen to out-of-state top-tier universities than it attracts. We can't afford that brain drain." 
Reports and analyses
In a research conducted by economist Ray Perryman and released on October 14, 2009, the amendment would create at least a million more jobs and add billions of dollars in tax revenues. Perryman promoted the passage of Proposition 4 in Austin during that week, along with former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and James Huffines, co-chairs of the group Texans for Tier One. According to Huffines: “Unquestionably, the jobs of the future are going to follow the brainpower.”
Path to the ballot
- See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas
As laid out in Article 17 of the Texas Constitution, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate.
- Texas 2009 ballot measures
- 2009 ballot measures
- List of Texas ballot measures
- History of direct democracy in Texas
- Legislative Reference Library of Texas
- Proposition 4
- University of North Texas Official Website
- University of Texas at Arlington Official Website
- University of Texas at Dallas Official Website
- University of Texas at San Antonio Official Website
- University of Houston Official Website
- University of Texas at El Paso Official Website
- Texas Tech University Official Website
- KGNS-TV, "Eleven proposed constitutional amendments before Texas voters this November," October 19, 2009
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "Key items on ballot for Texans," October 18, 2009
- KVIA.com, "Advocates for propositions make final push," November 2, 2009
- Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Constitutional amendment election dates," accessed January 20, 2015
- Texas Legislative Council, "Amendments to the Texas Constitution Since 1876," accessed January 20, 2015
- The Dallas Morning News, "Eminent domain limits, other Texas propositions pass," November 4, 2009 (dead link)
- Reporternews.com, "Tech president touts Prop 4," October 5, 2009
- Texas Secretary of State, "Official Ballot Language and Order for the Nov.3, 2009 Constitutional Amendment Election," July 28, 2009
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Texas Legislature Online, "Enrolled Version of HJR 14," accessed January 20, 2015
- My Fox Houston, "Ex Lt. Gov. Hobby Supports Proposition 4," October 14, 2009 (dead link)
- Texans For Tier One, "Texans For Tier One Needs You!"
- The Dallas Morning News, "Proposition 4 would open $500 million fund to 7 Texas universities," October 4, 2009
- mysa.com, "If UTSA gets to Tier One, San Antonio will thrive," October 4, 2009
- Follow the Money, Proposition 4"
- The Dallas Morning News, "Proposition 4 at a glance"
- The Daily Texan, "Student group first to come out against Proposition 4," October 9, 2009
- The Austin Chronicle, "The Austin Chronicle' Endorsements," October 16, 2009
- El Paso Times, "Propositions: Appraisal reform on November ballot," October 18, 2009
- Star-Telegram, "Nov. 3 election recommendations," October 16, 2009 (dead link)
- The Houston Chronicle, "For Proposition 4," October 3, 2009
- Houston Chronicle, "More Tier One schools a boon, economist says," October 14, 2009
- History of HJR 14
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